Optimal Joint Health

The hip joint is a crucial part of the human anatomy, enabling mobility and supporting body weight. It’s a complex structure, critical for a range of movements from walking to jumping. Understanding the hip’s anatomy and function is key to recognizing how it can be damaged and what treatments are available for hip-related pain and disorders.

Hip Anatomy

Bone structure

The hip is a ball-and-socket joint formed by the femur’s head (the ball) and the acetabulum of the pelvic bone (the socket). This structure allows for both stability and a wide range of motion.


Acting as a cushion, the cartilage minimizes friction and wear in the joint, facilitating smooth movement.

Ligaments and tendons

Ligaments connect bones and provide joint stability, while tendons attach muscles to bones, enabling movement.


Key muscles supporting the hip include the gluteal muscles, which power the hip during walking and running, and the iliopsoas, which are crucial for hip flexion.

Synovial lining

The rest of the surfaces of the hip joint are covered by a thin, smooth tissue liner called the synovial membrane, which makes a small amount of fluid that acts as a lubricant so that the bones in the hip joint will not rub against each other.

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How does the hip joint work?

The hip joint supports the body’s weight in both static (standing) and dynamic (moving) states. It allows for extensive movements like flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and rotation, thanks to the coordinated work of its bone structure, muscles, and connective tissues.

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How can the hip joint be damaged?

  • Wear and tear: Regular activities and aging can lead to the deterioration of the hip joint, especially the cartilage.
  • Injuries: Hip fractures, dislocations, and muscle strains are common injuries that can impair hip function.
  • Diseases: Conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can lead to hip pain and stiffness.

What causes hip pain?

  • Arthritis: This includes osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear) and rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune), leading to pain and limited motion.
  • Bursitis: Inflammation of the bursae, fluid-filled sacs near the joint, causing pain with movement or pressure.
  • Tendinitis: Inflammation of the tendons, often due to overuse or strain, resulting in pain and tenderness.
  • Labral tear: Tears in the ring of cartilage (labrum) surrounding the socket can cause pain, stiffness, and joint locking.
  • Fractures: Breaks in the hip bone, often due to falls or impacts, causing severe pain and immobility.
  • Sports injuries: Strains, sprains, and overuse injuries that can lead to acute or chronic hip pain.
  • Degenerative joint disease: Progressive deterioration of the joint cartilage, typically due to aging, causing chronic pain and limited mobility.
  • Avascular necrosis: Loss of blood supply to the femoral head, leading to bone death and joint pain.
  • Pinched nerves: These issues include sciatica, which can cause radiating pain from the lower back to the hip.

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Treatments to restore hip function

  • Conservative treatments: These include physical therapy to strengthen hip muscles, pain relief medications, and lifestyle modifications like weight management.
  • Surgical options: For more severe cases, options include hip arthroscopy to repair tears and remove damaged tissue, total hip replacement for advanced arthritis, and hip resurfacing, particularly for younger patients.
  • Physical therapy: Customized exercises to strengthen hip muscles, improve flexibility, and enhance range of motion.
  • Medications: Treatments may include anti-inflammatories, pain relievers, and, in some cases, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Lifestyle modifications: Weight management, activity modification, and ergonomic adjustments to reduce stress on the hip.
  • Joint injections: Injections such as corticosteroid or hyaluronic acid injections for pain relief and lubrication of the joint.
  • Arthroscopy: Minimally invasive surgery to repair or clean out damaged tissue, ideal for labral tears or mild arthritis.
  • Osteoplasty: Bone shaving or reshaping to relieve impingement and improve joint mechanics.
  • Total hip replacement: Surgical replacement of the damaged hip joint with artificial components, typically for severe arthritis or fractures.
  • Hip resurfacing: An alternative to total hip replacement, preserving more of the patient’s natural bone.
  • Labral repair or debridement: Surgical repair or cleaning of a torn or frayed labrum to alleviate pain and improve joint stability.
  • Fracture repair: Surgical intervention to repair hip fractures, often involving pins, screws, or plates.
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Hip diagram

Healthy hip joints and quality of life

The health of the hip joint is integral to our overall mobility and quality of life. Whether through conservative management or surgical intervention, the goal of treatment is always to restore function, alleviate pain, and improve quality of life.

Arthritic hip pain

Pain in your hip can be debilitating, making it difficult for you to walk, climb stairs, or even pick up an object from the floor. It can limit your freedom of movement and ability to function independently. While hip pain can be caused by deformity or by direct injury, like trauma or a sports injury, the most common cause of hip pain is osteoarthritis (OA), also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD). Depending on factors like age, weight, joint function, and activity, people with arthritis find their hip’s cartilage lining wears away over time. At that point, your bones begin to rub against each other, resulting in friction, swelling, pain, stiffness, and instability.

Experiencing joint pain day after day without relief can lead to “staying off” the joint – which often weakens the muscles around it, so it becomes even more difficult to move.

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Restoring hip function with joint replacement

You don’t have to live with severe joint pain and the functional limitations it causes. If you have not experienced adequate results with medication and other conservative treatments, total joint replacement may provide the pain relief you long for, in addition to allowing you to return to the lifestyle and activities you enjoy. Your orthopaedic specialist can tell you whether you might benefit from joint replacement and explain the reasons why it may or may not be suitable for you.

Of course, even if your orthopaedic specialist determines that joint replacement is the best medical option for you, it is still up to you to make the final decision.

The ultimate goal is for you to be as comfortable as possible, and that always means making the best decision for you based on your own individual needs.

What is the surgery?

Hip replacement surgery involves replacing the femur (head of the thigh bone) and the acetabulum (hip socket). Typically, the artificial ball with its stem is made of a strong metal or ceramic, and the artificial socket is made of polyethylene (a durable, wear-resistant plastic) or metal backed with a plastic liner. The artificial joint may be cemented in position or held securely in the bone without cement.

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Why choose New York Sports & Joints for hip pain?

Choose our clinic for your hip pain treatment and experience unparalleled expertise and compassionate care. Our board-certified, fellowship-trained specialists, educated at esteemed institutions, are dedicated to the latest advancements in hip care. Our bilingual services in English and Spanish ensure clear communication and inclusivity.

We’re not just treating symptoms; we focus on restoring your overall health, mobility, and lifestyle. Our patients consistently praise our personalized approach and successful outcomes, a testament to our commitment to excellence in orthopaedic care. At our clinic, you’re not just a patient; you’re a partner in your journey towards pain-free, active living.

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